Lady Spikers fall to UST for first loss

University of Santo Tomas jolted back from three points down in the decider to beat De La Salle University, 25-18, 25-23, 14-25, 16-25, 15-12, and be the last remaining undefeated team in the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Volleyball Tournament before 12,240 fans at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.

With the Lady Spikers ahead by three in the fifth set, 12-9, rookie Angge Poyos kickstarted the Golden Tigresses’ 6-0 fightback with a spike that bounced out off the arm of Thea Gagate.

Then Cassie Carballo showed nerves of steel at the service line, staying put there until the end as Margaret Banagua and Poyos produced the much-needed hits to win the game for UST in two hours and 41 minutes.

An attack error by Gagate put the Tigresses up, 13-12, followed by an ace by Carballo and a smart placement dump by Banagua.

“Wala nang madaling panalo ngayon, lahat pinaghihirapan talaga especially kaharap mo yung defending champion,” said head coach Kungfu Reyes after UST rose to 3-0.

The Tigresses flipped the switch after everything went downhill when the Lady Spikers mounted a fightback from a 0-2 set hole.

“Doon naman sa UST, talagang yung motivation nila sobra sobra pero nung dumating ng third and fourth, biglang na lowbatt na. Again we’re happy kasi nanalo lalo nung fifth set hindi bumitaw kahit ang layo na ng score nung fifth set,” Reyes said.

The defending champions rediscovered their winning ways after falling down to a 0-2 hole as substitutes Julyana Tolentino and Jyne Soreño provided the smart on the way to dominating the third and fourth frames to force the decider.

Lefty spiker Jonna Perdido unleashed a career-best performance of 24 points on 21 attacks and three blocks that went with five receptions to lead UST.

“Talagang pinaghandaan namin and sabi nga namin, labanan talaga ito ng kung sinong gustong manalo so mas gusto namin manalo this time,“ said Golden Tigresses captain Det Pepito, who had 18 receptions and 12 digs.

Rookie Poyos poured in 22 points and five digs while Banagua registered 11 points for UST.

Reigning MVP Angel Canino dropped 28 points on 24 spikes, three blocks, and a service ace for the Lady Spikers, who received their first defeat to drop to 2-1, tied with Far Eastern University at second.

Middle blockers Gagate and Amie Provido supplied 11 points apiece while Alleiah Malaluan and Soreño tallied 10 each in the loss.

UST will look to extend its unbeaten streak to four games next Sunday against FEU at the same venue at 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, De La Salle will seek to regain its winning form a day before against Ateneo de Manila University at the Pasay arena still at 4 p.m.